FROM DRUM! MAGAZINE’S APRIL 2018 ISSUE | BY NICOLAS GRIZZLE
A sea monster, a Mastodon, an admiral, and a total beast walk into a bar with a few other friends, make a bunch of savage noise, and thus, the Legend Of The Seagullmen is born.
This new, riff-heavy, hard rocking supergroup features Danny Carey of Tool as the beast behind the drum kit, Brent Hinds of Mastodon on guitar, Pete Griffin of Zappa Plays Zappa and Dethklok on bass, and a few other rippers. It’s spearheaded by director Jimmy Hayward (Jonah Hex, Horton Hears A Who) on guitar.
“Me and the Admiral, Jimmy, we live really close to each other. We have studios, we’re like studio rats, we just record and jam and hang out and play all the time,” says Carey. With a laugh, he adds, “Nothing better than making music with your friends. It’s what I’ve been doing for 40 years now!”
Carey has had some time for other projects in the wake of the 12-year (and counting) gap between Tool albums. Legend Of The Seagullmen’s self-titled debut album was released in February, and the band played its first official show on New Year’s Eve, opening for Primus in Oakland, California. Carey asserts that Tool has been writing new music, and even told Drum that an album will be finished this year.
“Well, Tool, obviously, is a priority,” he says. “But Brent’s our guitar player, and Jimmy’s a movie maker. We all have our things, our bread and butter, but there are always the gaps and the spaces in between. We’ll be doing this as much as we possibly can, just like any project you do.” That includes playing live as much as possible. “We always have windows in between and we’re going to take advantage of it every way we can. We’ll be doing shows, definitely.”
This motley crew has joined forces to make psychedelic cinematic rock, with songs about shipwrecks, adventure on the high seas, and a giant mutant squid attacking Hollywood Beach. Their mission is not entirely clear. Maybe they’re hunting ancient and mysterious treasures lost for centuries. Perhaps they’re on a quest to destroy an evil marauder threatening humanity’s very existence. Maybe they’ve simply fled to international waters to avoid paying taxes. Either way, personality sloshes out of this band of miscreants like a bottle of rum on an angry sea.
Their origin story, however, is not quite as mysterious. “We’re right here in the ’hood, in Hollywood, and we’ve been here for a long time, so as our friendship progressed, so did our musical jamming ideas and things started coming together,” says Carey, who started playing with Hayward, his neighbor, years ago. “And Jimmy knew the Doctor [the band’s mysterious singer], who has this crazy concept of the Seagullmen lore and it kind of all fit together. It was a no-brainer.”
Versatile bandleader Hayward, a veteran Pixar animator who found directorial success with 2008’s Horton Hears A Who, was working on the comic book film adaptation Jonah Hex and listening to Mastodon on repeat at the time. He told guitarist, engineer, and producer extraordinaire Josh Homme about this, and Homme promptly introduced him to Hinds. The two hit it off musically and recruited other like-minded rock superstar friends to round out the crew.
The writing process for the album was equally non-mysterious. “It’s actually pretty similar to most people’s bands,” says Carey. “Jimmy composes the frameworks for most of the tunes, the Doctor has his lore … [and] kind of does a lot of the ideas and the concepts for the creatures and all this stuff. It’s like a framework thing, so when we bring in tunes we all develop our parts, Pete Griffin and I, we just start pushing as far as we can and we’ll see where the song ends up and there we go.”
And the songs go pretty far. Though none clock in at more than seven minutes (in contrast to Tool’s ten-plus-minute epics), there’s plenty of rock to go around. Fans of Carey’s Fibonacci-fueled drum riffs will be happy to hear some ripping solos on this album, which was recorded with the same kit he’s used with Tool since 2006’s 10,000 Days.
“Actually, most of it, we recorded my drum tracks over here where we’re working on the Tool stuff so it’s the same kit. I don’t use much electronic stuff on the Seagullmen stuff because it doesn’t really lend itself to all that; it’s acoustic drums for the most part.”
The analog drum vibe extends to the recording process. “We’re an all-analog kind of band, it was pretty simple in a way,” says Carey. “We just go straight ahead, man, we just record it. Throw stuff down. We don’t try to fix it afterward in Pro Tools or something, because that can suck the life out of things. We can all play, so when we record, we just get to have fun and where we meet is what you hear.”
The new Seagullmen recordings are different than the 2015 recordings leaked to Rolling Stone. “Some of those things were kind of early jams or something,” he says. “When you really [decide], ‘We’re going to make a record,’ it goes to another level. You step your game up and you use real microphones. It keeps developing.”
No matter the project, Carey puts his all into the music every time he sits down to play.
“You do whatever you can to make it the most effective emotional vehicle possible. You want to wail on people,” he says. “That’s the goal of music. Make it synergistic, where it’s crossing artistic barriers and pushing it forward.
It doesn’t change if I’m playing jazz or if I’m playing on somebody’s poppier song. I’m just trying to make the songs as best as I can make them and use all the skills and all the craft I’ve learned my whole life to make that happen. It doesn’t really change that way.”
Maybe the lyrics from the album’s title track say it best: “That’s right, this is entertainment. We don’t know why, we can’t explain it. It’s the legend, the power of the Seagullmen.”
Transcription by Andy Ziker
“Curse Of The Red Tide”
When prog rock drumming great Danny Carey (of Tool) joins a supergroup (Legend Of The Seagullmen), you expect him to display death-defying chops. Instead, he plays to the song throughout the long-awaited self-titled debut album. On “Curse Of The Red Tide,” Carey gives us funky metal as he pounds on quarters on washy hi-hats, plays syncopated bass drum in one- and two-foot combinations, and adds ghosted notes on the snare in timely locations. His long fill (in measures 8 and 9) travels between toms and snare and blends eighths, sixteenths, and thirty-second-notes.
BAND: Legend Of The Seagullmen
ALBUM: Legend Of The Seagullmen
BIRTHPLACE: Lawrence, Kansas
INFLUENCES: Bill Bruford, Billy Cobham, Lenny White, Steve Gadd, “everybody that played with Frank Zappa”
STICKS: Vic Firth
ELECTRONICS Korg, Roland